We met three brothers in 2016 that we immediately were drawn to. They were very street involved but held down jobs occasionally. They looked tough but looks can be deceiving.
It’s strangely serendipitous the friendship discoveries we make. Those that are not of our circle of comfort. They live outside our enclosure of safety. Their attitudes and behaviors are rough. They see the world differently from us because their life experiences are different than ours.
One of my friends once nonchalantly told me he knows he has over 40 brothers and sisters because his father slept around. How do I put aside my life experiences and step along side him? Where should I lay down my judgement and condemnation? Where is the box that I can store my preconceived ideas about how people should be? I have to die to myself and put the formulas aside on curing someone and rest in that I can’t fix anyone. I’m broken too and I can’t even fix myself.
“I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question? The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does.” (Romans 7:24-25a | MSG)
So we don’t fix people. We shine the Light that God has put in us to show how the world should be. We let God do the fixing. We listen. We listen to their stories. We don’t listen to try to snare them with our life lessons. We listen with the ears of our Savior and respond as He would.
“Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.” (Ephesians 5:1-2 | MSG)
So we listen and we Love like we’ve been Loved.
Since 2016 we have Loved the three brothers I started writing about. It’s been a roller coaster ride with them. It’s hard. It hurts sometimes and it takes a lot out of us. But we continue to listen and to Love. We continue dying to ourselves. We sacrifice our hearts our minds and our strength. But it is in dying that we find ourselves and that allows others see a light in their darkness.
Right now all three are in jail. Two in prison and one in the county jail. Our hearts break for them. We pray for them. And when we see them again we will embrace them and tell them we Love them. Some may not believe this but they know the Lord. Life’s experiences makes it hard for them. It makes it hard for us. We continue to let a little bit of Light shine in their darkness. They will never forget us and we will always remember them.
It’s not easy. That’s why it’s called sacrifice. Sacrifice is hard. Anyone can do easy but the truly committed can do hard.